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ships that survived the impossible - Add your own crazy pick's.


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HMS Kelly on return to port after being torpedoed and towed home at 3kt, under attack all the way:


This was probably the occasion on which her captain, having visited her during construction at the dockyard and discussed damage control measures with the Constructors, followed the advice he'd received as to what to throw overboard in which order to keep her afloat. 

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SMS Seydlitz.

She suffered a hit that killed 159 men and destroyed both rear turrets at the Battle of Dogger Bank, being saved from a magazine explosion by the quick thinking of her executive officer and the heroic actions of Wilhelm Heidkamp, who suffered severe injuries to his hands and lungs in the act of flooding her magazines. Z21 was later named in his honor.

At Jutland she was hit 21 times by large caliber shells and despite this tremendous amount of punishment she managed to limp back to port.


Edited by Nevermore135
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Survived a mine strike in the 1980s that damaged the keel of the ship. After heroic damage control efforts, she was retrieved, repaired and served for a few more decades.

It was fascinating how her crew related their ships experience to her namesake in WW2.

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A long time ago, I read a story about a Japanese Cruiser which had her stern "blown off" (as I remember) and was somehow able to be towed back to port while still able to spin at least one of her propellers.
So, I went looking to see if I could somehow find the name of the ship.
Along the way, I found a few ships who survived battle damage and made it back to port.  Not all of them survived WW-II, though.
Here are some excerpts from their wiki-pages.


Agano was hit by a Mark 13 torpedo which blew off the very end of her stern and bent her rearmost propeller shafts. The ship's rudder was not damaged, although Osugi was injured in the attack. After emergency repairs were made by the ship's crew, Agano departed Rabaul under her own power the next day, escorted by the destroyer Urakaze. Not long after their departure, the ships were sighted by the American submarine USS Scamp, which launched six torpedoes. One of them struck the cruiser amidships, flooding all of the boiler rooms, which knocked out all power. While attempting to repair the damage, the submarine Albacore attempted to attack, but was prevented from doing so by depth charges from Urakaze. Noshiro and the light cruiser Nagara were ordered to her assistance on the 13th and her sister took Agano in tow upon her arrival. The tow parted the following day and Nagara took over the task. The damaged ship finally reached Truk on 16 November.[16]


Temporary repairs by the repair ship Akashi began immediately upon her arrival and lasted until 15 February 1944. That evening she departed Truk to get permanent repairs in the Japanese home islands, escorted by the destroyer Oite and submarine chaser CH-28. On the afternoon of 16 February, about 160 nautical miles (300 km) north of Truk, Agano was attacked by the submarine Skate, which fired four torpedoes. Two struck the cruiser on the starboard side at 16:44, flooding Boiler Room No. 2 which gave her a list of 12° and started a large fire. The ship progressively flooded and Oite rescued 523 survivors between 20:00 and 23:30. Agano sank at 10°11′N 151°42′E at 01:50 on 17 February and was struck from the navy list on 31 March.[17]

As Oite was approaching Truk the following morning, the destroyer was sunk by Grumman TBF Avengers of Task Force 58 in the course of Operation Hailstone, and sank within minutes, taking all but twenty of her own crew down with her. All of the Agano crewmembers originally rescued were lost.[10]




Returning to Kure Naval Arsenal on 6 June, Kumano was fitted with a Type 21 radar and her dual 13-mm machine guns were replaced by two triple-mount Type 96 anti-aircraft guns. She returned to Rabaul on 25 June with another cargo of troops and supplies. On 18 July, Kumano was escorting a Tokyo Express high speed transport mission with Chōkai and Sendai, but was attacked off of Kolombangara by USMC Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bombers from Guadalcanal. The attack damaged Kumano’s aft hull, and she underwent emergency repairs at Rabaul by the repair ship Yamabiko Maru and at Truk by the repair ship Akashi, but finally had to be withdrawn back to Kure from 2 September to 3 November for proper repairs. She was based out of Truk through the end of the year, at Palau in January and February 1944, and in Singapore from March through mid-May. At Singapore, an additional eight single-mount Type 96 guns were added. From late May through June, Kumano was based at Tawi-Tawi. During the Battle of the Philippine Sea, on 20 June 1944 she was attacked by aircraft from the aircraft carriers USS Bunker Hill, Monterey, and Cabot. During this action, the carrier Hiyō was sunk and the battleship Haruna was badly damaged.[6] Kumano returned to Kure on 25 June, and additional Type 13 and Type 22 radars were installed, as were more Type 96 AA guns.[4] She departed on 8 July with reinforcements and supplies for Singapore, arriving 16 July.

On 25 October 1944, Kumano was part of the Japanese Central Force in the Battle off Samar. She was hit by a Mark 15 torpedo fired by the destroyer USS Johnston, which blew off her bow. As Kumano was retiring toward the San Bernardino Strait, she came under aerial attack and suffered minor damage. The next day, 26 October Kumano was attacked from aircraft launched by the carrier USS Hancock while in the Sibuyan Sea, and was struck by three 500 lb (227 kg) bombs. She survived and sailed to Manila Bay for repairs on her bow and all four boilers. While still under repairs, she was attacked on 29 October by carrier aircraft from Task Force 38.[6]

220px-Japanese_cruiser_under_attack_26_October_1944.jpg Kumano under attack, 26 October 1944

She returned to service on 4 November, departing Manila for Taiwan as part of the escort for Convoy Ma-Ta 31. On 6 November 1944 off Cape Bolinao, Luzon, the convoy came under attack by a U.S. submarine wolfpack consisting of Batfish, Guitarro, Bream, Raton and Ray.[6]

In all, the American submarines launched 23 torpedoes toward the convoy, two of which struck Kumano. Of the aforementioned U.S. submarines, Ray inflicted the most severe damage on Kumano. The first hit destroyed her recently replaced bow, and the second damaged her starboard engine room, flooding all four of her engine rooms. She took on an 11° list and lost steerage. At 19:30, she was towed to Dasol Bay by the cargo ship Doryo Maru, and from there she was moved to Santa Cruz, Zambales, on Luzon.

While undergoing repairs in Santa Cruz on 25 November, Kumano came under attack by aircraft launched by the carrier USS Ticonderoga. She was hit by five torpedoes and four 500 lb (230 kg) bombs, and at 15:15 she rolled over and sank in about 31 m (102 ft) of water. Of her crew at the time, 497 - including Captain Soichiro Hitomi and Executive Officer Captain Yuji Sanada - were lost with the ship and 636 were rescued. She was removed from the navy list on 20 January 1945.[6]

Admiral William "Bull" Halsey reportedly once remarked that "if there was a Japanese ship I could feel sorry for at all, it would be the Kumano".[8]




Battle of Leyte Gulf[edit]

Myōkō participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf as part of Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita's First Mobile Striking Force (Center Force) consisting of four battleships and 10 cruisers. As the Center Force tried to force a passage through the Sibuyan Sea, it was spotted and attacked by US Task Force 38. Although most airstrikes concentrated on the battleship Musashi, Myōkō was hit by a torpedo aft on the starboard side, which damaged her starboard screws. She broke off and headed for Singapore at a reduced speed of 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph), arriving on 2 November 1944. After temporary repairs, she departed for Japan with a stop at Cam Ranh Bay.

En route to Cam Ranh Bay, Myōkō was hit by one torpedo from a spread of six, fired by the submarine USS Bergall at 17:35 on 13 December 1944 on her aft port side, blowing away her stern, and leaving her unable to steer. She went dead in the water. Despite the extensive damage to the aft, one port screw remained operable and she could make 6 knots (11 km/h; 6.9 mph). Unable to steer, she was towed by destroyer Ushio (which assisted in damaging Bergall, which survived and returned to Fremantle) and several other ships to Singapore harbor for repairs, but materials in Singapore were insufficient to complete the repairs for both Myōkō and Takao, the latter which had been severely damaged by two submarine-launched torpedoes prior to the Sibuyan Sea battle.


220px-Myoko1945.jpg Aerial view of Myōkō in Singapore, February 1, 1945: Note the ship's missing stern. 220px-Myoko_after_surrender_%282%29.jpg Two British naval officers examine what is left of Myōkō's stern.

In February 1945, the harbor commander reported that Myōkō was irreparable at Singapore without more materials, and impossible to tow to Japan. He recommended that Myōkō be kept in Singapore as a floating antiaircraft battery, and this suggestion was approved. Both Myōkō and Takao were targeted by British midget submarine attacks on 26 July, but survived the war.

Myōkō formally surrendered to Royal Navy units on 21 September 1945, and was subsequently towed to the Strait of Malacca and scuttled off Port Swettenham, Malaya (near present-day Port Klang, Malaysia) at 3°5′N 100°40′E on 8 July 1946, near submarines I-501 and I-502.


I'm sure there are more ships and more stories of struggles of crews to save their ships, despite the odds.

Here's a hoisted beverage for all the ships & crews, of every nation, who did their best, whatever the outcome.  DrinkingWolfKampai_facebooksticker_saved_08-10-2022_.jpg.0377579576815b619e5af96bb3539fd8.jpg

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Does surviving WWII as unfinished hulls count? Considering in most instances such unfinished hulls were usually discarded and scrapped due to damage caused by war and general neglect.

Yugoslav destroyer Split.

Laid down before World War II, captured by Italians uncompleted in 1941, then by Partisans and Germans in 1943, finally by Partisans again finally in 1945. Raised, repaired and finished in early 1950s to a modified design almost 20 years after being laid down.

Yugoslav escort ship Ucka.

Laid down as Italian escort ship Balestra. Still unfinished in September 1943 and captured by Germans on slipway in Fiume. Damaged by Allied bombing and captured, claimed by and finally awarded to Yugoslavia. Finished postwar and served into 1970s.

French cruiser De Grasse. Much more famous than the two Yugoslav torpedo ships so I will just skip here.

Edited by Project45_Opytny
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If you ever want to read about damage control efforts that go all the way...this is the ship for you.

The only ship in Operation Pedestal that carried fuel oil...hit by torpedoes, multiple bombs, abandoned three times, under constant air attack...finishing the journey literally tied to two other destroyers acting as propulsion and steering...deck awash and actively sinking.

Delivered her cargo as she sank to the bottom of the harbor.

I remain astonished that its story hasn't been made into a major movie.

Edited by Daniel_Allan_Clark
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7 hours ago, Nevermore135 said:

SMS Seydlitz.

She suffered a hit that killed 159 men and destroyed both rear turrets at the Battle of Dogger Bank, being saved from a magazine explosion by the quick thinking of her executive officer and the heroic actions of Wilhelm Heidkamp, who suffered severe injuries to his hands and lungs in the act of flooding her magazines. Z21 was later named in his honor.

Ninja'd. +1.


USS Franklin.

May have even suffered more than the USS Oriskany, and USS Forrestal fires which occurred later.

Edited by Estimated_Prophet
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12 hours ago, Slammer58 said:

I vote for the USS Nevada.   She was still floating after two nukes in 1946

to be that person, so did the USS Pensacola 😛

It seems that if you were not directly under/too close to the explosion, most Warships would survive a nuke.


Edited by Grantwhy
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Ships that survived what shouldn't be survivable?


HMIJS Shigure.  The ship was the only one in a squadron of four to survive a surprise American destroyer torpedo attack that wiped out the other three destroyers.  Shigure was found many months later to have survived because the torpedo that struck her rudder went through it without detonating.  In a later battle, an Allied bomber had her dead to rights alone on the sea, but she survived because her captain ordered a flank speed with overboost that caused the bomber crew to assume the destroyer was on fire and sinking because of the flames belching from her stacks.  That the worn engines didn't explode when the order was executed was also on the verge of a miracle.


HMIJS Amatsukaze.  In the Battle of Guadalcanal, the destroyer came under attack by U.S.S. Helena and sustained so many holes in her hull that both her captain and the engineer who inspected her after she limped back to base on manual steering declared it a miracle she was still afloat, let alone was able to return to base on her own power.


These incidents are detailed by Captain Tameichi Hara in the book Japanese Destroyer Captain, as he was the commanding officer aboard both during those incidents.


Edited by Jakob Knight
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USS Menges DE-320 took a torpedo to the stern. Ended up having the stern of another damaged DE grafted on.


USS Murphy DD*603

Murphy was involved in a collision at sea and the bow sank. The stern remained afloat and the entire bow was rebuilt. The ship was eventually scrapped in the 70s
(see TV show 'Deep Sea Detectives' episode is 'Destroyer Down'.


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